Social media's impact on fitness

How checking in on Facebook keeps people fit

OVIEDO, Fla. – Most fitness programs usually begin with a warmup. But at the Fitness By Example bootcamp that meets near Oviedo, checking in on Facebook before a workout is mandatory.

[WEB EXTRA: Social media fitness groups: Fitness by Example | Front Running Sports | West Volusia Runners ]

"I make them actually check in three times a week," said trainer and owner of Fitness By Example bootcamp, Michael Echevarria.

He said between the jumping jacks, mountain climbers and pushups, the class can be very intimidating. To counteract that fear factor, this fitness 'tribe' as Michael calls it, relies on each other for support.

Tribe member Alicia Decker said accountability makes all the difference.

"If you don't show up, they're going to ask you where you were, and I don't want to cheat because I don't wanna tell everyone that I cheated," she said.

Decker has planked and lunged her way to a fifteen pound weight loss, but what she's gained through this bootcamp means much more.

"Once we got into it and started motivating each other I think he saw transformations in our behaviors and our friendships and our bonds," said Decker.

Edward Hamann joined Fitness By Example bootcamp for multiple reasons.

"I was looking for a complete lifestyle change," he said.

In an effort to increase his fitness level, lower stress and lose weight, he started planking, squatting and lunging his way to a fitter physique. Traveling for work is an added challenge for Hamann, but thanks to the Facebook page, he can take his routine with him on the road, while keeping tabs on the rest of the group.

He said, "When you can see on Facebook what other people are going through, all of a sudden it makes it a lot easier for me, while I'm on the road, to make some healthier choices on what I eat."

Even running, often a solitary sport, is becoming much more social.

April Darrow is the owner of Front Running Sports in Lake Mary. She said Facebook helps draw in more traffic to her store, while bringing people together who share the same passion for running.

Her social media campaign brings in runners like Howard Brenner, who has advanced from 5Ks to 10Ks and even a half marathon. He said it's the encouragement from social media that has brought him this far.

"An unexpected side effect was all of these people telling me I was motivating them, and I was just looking for motivation myself," said Brenner.

A recent study by the app My Fitness Pal found users with 10 or more friends on the app lost an average of four times as much weight compared to those who haven't connected with friends.